01 March 2022, The Tablet

Buckfast Abbey welcomes 12 discerners for Holy Week

The twelve men will have free use of Buckfast's extensive grounds for the duration of their retreat.

Buckfast Abbey welcomes 12 discerners for Holy Week

Buckfast Abbey, Devon
Alison Day/Flickr | Creative Commons

An English Benedictine community famous for their tonic wine will welcome 12 men discerning their vocation into their common life this Holy Week. Directed at men considering religious life as well as those considering the priesthood, the initiative begins at Buckfast Abbey on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday, 17 April.

While staying in the monastery guest house, the men will share in the common life of the community, taking meals in the Abbey refectory and participating in daily mass and the Office of Holy Week.

The 12 guests - a number chosen in tribute to the number of Christ’s apostles - will have free use of Buckfast’s extensive grounds over the course of the retreat. During their nine-day stay at the Abbey, the men will hear daily extended homilies from popular retreat preacher Fr Andrew Robinson, participate in group discussions about their vocational journey, and hear testimonials from the monks of Buckfast’s Benedictine community.  The monastery’s guest house will close for the duration of the retreat.

Cartoon by Pugh.

David Charlesworth OSB, the Abbot of the Benedictine community at Buckfast, said he hoped the retreat would give participants “a quiet place to learn, contemplate and hear God speak.”

“As a centre of the Roman Catholic faith, helping those considering their vocation is central to our work” Abbot Charlesworth said. As “the greatest and holiest of weeks in the liturgical year,” Holy Week presented Buckfast’s Benedictines with a “fitting time to offer a guided retreat to those discerning their vocation in life.”

Urging those interested to apply to the retreat through Buckfast Abbey’s website, Charlesworth said he hoped the retreat could aid those interested in the religious life to “take the next step”. Applicants to the retreat will be accepted on a first-come first-served basis.

Buckfast Abbey, located in Devon, is one of the oldest monasteries within the English Benedictine congregation - and, thanks to the highly successful food and drink ventures associated with the community, one of the most financially successful.

Buckfast Tonic Wine, originally made at the Abbey and now licensed by the community to a local manufacturer, has proven a popular product north of the border - and a highly controversial one. According to a BBC investigation, the fortified wine was mentioned in almost 6,500 Strathclyde Police crime reports between 2010 and 2012.

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